Give free education to the disabled - call


RUVUMA - The new Constitution should ensure that people with disabilities have the right to free education in all levels, proposed Samwel Mapunda of the Disabled Farmers’ Association, based in Songea during a discussion forum on the draft constitution held recently in the Ruvuma.

During the constitution forum which was inspired by the funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) in late August Mr Mapunda first commended the draft document for acknowledging rights for people with disabilities (PWDs), but wanted the new constitution to state clearly that any person with disability has the right for free education.
“I understand that the draft has left room for Parliament to enact a law which would indicate how the rights of people with disabilities would be provided for... however, experience shows that it is better that those rights are outlined in the Constitution directly,” said Mr. Mapunda.
The issue was supported by a good majority of participants who wanted the new constitution to give more priority to the rights of PWDs. “If you have a disabled person who is educated, he will be able to vie for any political posts like any other people. This will to a large extent help eradicating the notion of favoritism,” said another participant.
Kassim Mngwali on his part, proposed for an affirmative action so as to increase the number of special seats for people with disabilities (apart from the proposed five seats in parliament as outlined in the draft constitution.
“Section 105 (3) of the draft constitution gives the president powers to appoint five parliamentarians from people with disabilities across the union. But, the decision as to who should represent PWDs should be left to PWDs themselves. We know better than anyone who can fully represent us in the parliament. We are afraid the whole process can be politicized if we leave all powers to the president,” said Kassim.
The forum members also suggested that the rights of people with disabilities section 44 (2) should also order for execution of laws that will ensure friendly disability access into public buildings and social areas.
However, the participants supported the three-tier government structure as proposed in the new constitution. One, Mr. Percival Bwanali said the move may rid the nation of misconceptions that that the Mainland is better placed than the Isles.
Chairman of farmers Disabled Association, Mr. Ally Kiponda said, PWDs in Songea did not get a chance to air their views during the initial views collection exercise done by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). Hence the funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) has this time around enhanced their engagement – much as they have been able to make their inputs on the draft document.

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